Soil legacy effects of climatic stress, management and plant functional composition on microbial communities influence the response of Lolium perenne to a new drought event
Background and aims
Drought events, agricultural practices and plant communities influence microbial and soil abiotic parameters which can feedback to fodder production. This study aimed to determine which soil legacies influence plant biomass production and nutritional quality, and its resistance and recovery to extreme weather events.
In a greenhouse experiment, soil legacy effects on Lolium perenne were examined, first under optimal conditions, and subsequently during and after drought. We used subalpine grassland soils previously cultivated for two years with grass communities of distinct functional composition, and subjected to combinations of climatic stress and simulated management.
The soil legacy of climatic stress increased biomass production of Lolium perenne and its resistance and recovery to a new drought. This beneficial effect resulted from higher nutrient availability in soils previously exposed to climatic stresses due to lower competitive abilities and resistance of microbial communities to a new drought. This negative effect on microbial communities was strongest in soils from previously cut and fertilized grasslands or dominated by conservative grasses.
In subalpine grasslands more frequent climatic stresses could benefit fodder production in the short term, but threaten ecosystem functioning and the maintenance of traditional agricultural practices in the long term.
KeywordsPlant functional traits Lolium perenne Extracellular enzymatic activities Mycorrhizae Climatic stress Soil legacy
This study was conducted as part of the ECO-SERVE project through the 2013–2014 BiodivERsA/FACCE-JPI joint call for research proposals, with the national funders ANR, NWO, FCT (BiodivERsA/001/2014), MINECO, FORMAS, and SNSF. The conditioning phase of soils was a part of BiodivERsA project REGARDs with funding from the French Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (ANR). We thank Sophie Périgon for help and assistance for the measurements of arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization. We thank Karl Grigulis for his critical reading of the manuscript and his correction of the language. We also thank the referee for their constructive comments which improved the manuscript substantially.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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